Eric Lee Flores
Environment | Law | National

Tulalip Tribes citizen sentenced for role in takeover of federal refuge

Eric Lee Flores, a young citizen of the Tulalip Tribes, was sentenced to probation and home detention for his role in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

According to a sentencing memorandum, Flores brought numerous firearms to the refuge in January 2016. He acted as a "guard" during the earlier part of the occupation and posted photos on Facebook.

Federal authorities said Flores traveled back and forth between the refuge and his tribe's reservation in neighboring Washington before he was arrested in February 2016. He eventually pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States.

"This has brought embarrassment to him, his family and to his tribe," his attorney said in court on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Photo: John Bromley

The armed standoff was led by members of the anti-government Bundy family. It lasted 41 days and resulted in the death of one of the participants.

A total of 26 people were charged in connection with the illegal occupation and 14 pleaded guilty. Flores was the youngest -- he was 22 years old at the time of his arrest and is now 23, according to news reports.

The main leaders of the takeover were found not guilty after a trial last October. Some of them face charges in connection with a different armed standoff in Nevada in 2014.

The land in and around the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was initially created as a 1.78 million-acre reservation or the Burns Paiute Tribe in 1872. The federal government forced the tribe's ancestors off the land and forced them to march to reservations in Washington following the Bannock War in 1878.

Some tribal citizens eventually returned to Oregon but found themselves as outcasts in their own homeland. A land claim was later settled by the Indian Claims Commission for just pennies on the dollar.

The tribe now resides on a much-smaller reservation of about 800 acres. Its citizens own more than 11,000 acres of allotments.

Read More on the Story:
Refuge occupier Eric Flores sentenced to home detention (AP 7/6)
Washington Tribe Member Sentenced For Malheur Takeover (Oregon Public Broadcasting 7/6)
Refuge occupier Eric Lee Flores sentenced to 2 years probation, 5 months home detention (The Oregonian 7/6)

Related Stories:
Member of Tulalip Tribes pleads guilty for role in Oregon standoff (June 10, 2016)
Secretary Jewell meets with Burns Paiute Tribe and visits refuge (March 22, 2016)
Defendants charged for damaging sacred Burns Paiute Tribe site (March 10, 2016)